Despite my best intentions, I didn’t do well with either my winter walking or my writing last week. A cold kept me off my feet for most of last week, and even today, some freshly-fallen snow is making pretty hard to do much walking without slipping. Even so, I’ve decided the best course of action is to keep trying – day-by-day – even if the process feels discouraging in the present. Conveniently, that’s how my writing is going as well.
As I wrote a couple weeks ago, one of my goals is spend the year revising my latest project. However, I recently started making progress on another long-gestating project I’ve been thinking about for a while. My first instinct was to jettison my revisions and start writing. And I have to be honest – I came really really close to doing so. Fortunately, after listening to some old Writing Excuses episodes about revision, I decided to keep going on my revisions.
I did decide, however, to follow my own advice and be realistic about my goals. I’m not going to wait a year to be creatively fulfilled while slugging away at revisions. I wrote my current project while taking David Farland’s excellent online writing courses. I learned a lot about employing new writing strategies, such as try/fail cycles, hooks and effective settings. However, this required experimenting with my narrative, and I don’t believe all of the experiments were successful in the narrative as a whole. As a result, my project requires quite a lot of revisions – and possibly – rewriting.
So here’s what I’ve decided – I’m going to keep on revising my project. Fortunately, my writing group has given me no shortage of revisions to keep me busy as a while. But when it comes to rewriting, I am going to set this project aside for at least a year before coming back. It beats the alternative: slogging through rewrites with very little passion for my project. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to start fresh and apply what I’ve learned my own way. I am going to run my current project by my alpha readers to get a sense of what’s working in the current narrative.
Revisions are part of the writing process, but they don’t just apply to what I’m writing – they also apply to my goals. Ultimately, it’s a balance between what I want to accomplish as a writer and what I want to learn as a writer. This new strategy should give me plenty of practice with deep editing without disregarding the possibility of new projects for the year. We’ll see how it goes, but just like walking, it’s best viewed one step at a time.